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Chandrayaan-3 Confirms Presence Of Oxygen And Sulphur On Moon, Continues Search For Hydrogen

The Chandrayaan-3 has also confirmed the presence of aluminum, calcium, iron, chromium, titanium, manganese, and silicon on Moon's surface.

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Chandrayaan-3 lander module
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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Tuesday said that the Chandrayaan-3 has confirmed the presence of oxygen and sulphur among other elements on South Pole of the Moon. 

The Chandrayaan-3 landed on Moon's South Pole on August 23, making India the first country to land on Lunar South Pole and the fourth country overall to land on Moon. The Vikram lander and Pragyaan rover of Chandrayaan-3 have six instruments onboard to carry out scientific activities. 

The ISRO said that these are the first-ever in-situ measurements on the elemental composition of Moon's soil. The experiment was carried out by the Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument onboard Pragyaan rover.

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The ISRO said, "Preliminary analyses, graphically represented, have unveiled the presence of Aluminum (Al), Sulphur (S), Calcium (Ca), Iron (Fe), Chromium (Cr), and Titanium (Ti) on the lunar surface. Further measurements have revealed the presence of manganese (Mn), silicon (Si), and oxygen (O). Thorough investigation regarding the presence of Hydrogen is underway."

Explaining the process through which the elements' presence was confirmed, the ISRO said, "LIBS is a scientific technique that analyzes the composition of materials by exposing them to intense laser pulses. A high-energy laser pulse is focused onto the surface of a material, such as a rock or soil. The laser pulse generates an extremely hot and localized plasma. The collected plasma light is spectrally resolved and detected by detectors such as Charge Coupled Devices. Since each element emits a characteristic set of wavelengths of light when it's in a plasma state, the elemental composition of the material is determined."

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The ISRO further said such research is not possible from orobiters and rover on the surface is needed. 

Earlier in 2009, a US-made instrument aboard Chandrayaan-1 had confirmed the presence of ice on Moon's South Pole. 

The South Pole of the Moon is the shadowy, unexplored part of the Moon that's now at the centre of global attention. As ice is known to be there, space agencies are eager to know what other elements it has. The potential presence of water is a major cause of excitement. As Chandrayaan-3 is the first-ever spacecraft to land on Moon's South Pole, scientific data gathered by its instruments would be key to the understanding of the region. 

In 2025, India and Japan are scheduled to launch a Lunar Polar Exploration Mission called LUPEX which would look for water on Moon's polar regions. 

The presence of water would be key to any longterm human presence on Moon. Under the Artemis Programme of the United States, Moon is set to be the stepping stone to Mars and beyond and not the destination in itself. In 2025-26, the US space agency NASA is set to land humans on Moon for the first time in five decades under the Artemis-III mission. 

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